Doctor Who looks set to incorporate the iconic civil rights figure Rosa Parks into an episode of its forthcoming eleventh season. Ever since the show began, Doctor Who has been making use of its time travel shenanigans to put the Doctor in contact with a variety of well known names from human history. This trend has been especially prominent in the new-Who era, with modern Doctors coming face-to-face with the likes of Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie. Naturally, most of these encounters involve the Doctor having to save their famous new friend from an alien peril.
One figure who hasn't yet featured in the series is the inspirational civil rights activist, Rosa Parks. Parks is perhaps most widely known for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in December of 1955. This single act become one of the brightest beacons in the fight for racial equality in the United States, at a time when black people were segregated and discriminated against on a daily basis. Thanks to the work of people like Parks, as well as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and many others, African Americans were able to forge a path towards equality that is still being walked today.
Now it appears that Parks' legacy will be honored on the iconic science-fiction TV show, Doctor Who. Rumors to this effect first surfaced last month when on-set photos showed a bus being used in filming that is almost identical to the one famously boarded by Rosa Parks. However, further evidence has recently come to light from Twitter user @Ruther2 who found actors David Rubin and Aki Omoshaybi listed on casting site Spotlight as portraying Raymond Parkes and Fred Grey respectively. Although the spellings are incorrect, Raymond Parks was Rosa's husband and Fred Gray was her lawyer.
Taking into account both the set photos and the reported casting leak, it certainly seems that Rosa Parks is going to take center stage in an episode of Doctor Who in its forthcoming season. Interestingly, Rubin and Omoshaybi's roles have now been removed from the offending website. This could either be because the listings were inaccurate to begin with, or because the BBC is keen to limit as many spoilers as possible heading into Jodie Whittaker's first season at the helm of the TARDIS.
Given the rate The Doctor bumps into famous folk from Earth's history, it was probably only a matter of time until the show included Rosa Parks, however her appearance is perhaps more apt now than ever before. Doctor Who took a step forward in social equality by casting a female as The Doctor for the very first time. It makes perfect sense that in her first season, the Thirteenth Doctor would meet up with one of the most famous and inspirational women in history.
Usually when Who tackles a figure from the past, the episode takes the form of a light-hearted romp, whether that be Shakespeare fending off witches or Agatha Christie running from a giant alien wasp. Undoubtedly, any potential Rosa Parks episode will be handled with a touch more sensitivity given the issues involved.
Doctor Who season 11 premieres later this year on BBC and BBC America.
Source: Ruther2 (via Twitter)